10 Jan 2013

Habemus Episcopum! Limerick has a new bishop!





3 years, 3 weeks and 4 days after the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray as Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick, today in Rome at 12noon (11am Irish time) the Holy See announced that the new bishop of Limerick is to be Fr Brendan Leahy, professor of systematic theology at Maynooth College.

From Vatican Radio:

"After three years of sede vacante, clergy and faithful of the diocese of Limerick, Ireland, celebrated the news Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new bishop to the mid-western diocese.

 
He is 53 year-old Rev. Brendan Leahy, a qualified barrister and to date Professor of Systematic Theology at Ireland’s major seminary, St Patrick’s Maynooth.
 
Limerick, which has been without a bishop since the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray in 2009, is one of six suffragan dioceses in the ecclesiastical province of Cashel (also known as Munster) and is subject to the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly. With over 60 parishes, it encompases Ireland’s third most populous city, of the same name. Limerick diocese is also located in one of the areas worst hit by the nation's economic down-turn, with high levels of unemployment and emigration.
 
A priest from the Dublin Archdiocese, Rev. Brendan Leahy is a von Balthasar scholar and ecumenist, and has published books and articles on topics such as John Paul II, the Marian profile of the Church, issues facing the Church in the twenty-first century, the ecclesial movements of the Church, interreligious dialogue and the Priesthood.
 
He was also the organiser of the much praised Theological Symposium that preceded the International Eucharistic Congress held in the Irish capital in June last year. The three days of lectures and debate at Maynooth on the Theology of the Eucharist stood out for its inclusion among curial cardinals and established academics of emerging young theologians from various Christian churches.

 
Brendan Leahy is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin and was ordained in 1986. He is currently professor of systematic theology at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. For many years he has been a member of the Focolare Movement and is living in the Focolare Centre, Prosperous, County Kildare.

 
Born in Dublin in 1960, Father Brendan lived in Crumlin parish until he was six, then moving to Ballyroan, Rathfarnham. He attended Saint Damian’s National School, Walkinstown, and Coláiste Éanna CBS, Ballyroan.
 
He completed his undergraduate studies in law at University College Dublin (1977-1980), theology and spirituality at Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin (1980-1981), philosophy at Clonliffe College, Dublin (1981-1983) and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1983-1986). He pursued professional studies at King’s Inns, Dublin (1981-83) and was called to the Bar in 1983. He pursued post-graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1983-1991) on the writings of a Swiss theologian, leading to a doctoral thesis published as: The Marian Profile in the Ecclesiology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (New York and London: New City, 2000).
 
Father Leahy has held a number of appointments in the Archdiocese of Dublin: curate in Clonskeagh parish (1991-1992), member of the staff of Holy Cross Seminary (1992-1999) and Mater Dei Institute of Education (1992-2006); member of the Priests Council and College of Consultors (1998-2004); parish chaplain in Lusk (1999-2004); registrar of Mater Dei Institute (2004-2006); chair of the Ecumenical Committee; diocesan censor (1999 to present).
 
On the national level Father Leahy has acted as secretary of the Advisory Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish Bishops’ Conference (1999–2010) and is a member of the Inter-Church Meeting (1999 - present) and of the Three Faiths Forum of Ireland (1999 – present). He is co-chair of the Theology Forum of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (2010 - present).
 
Father Leahy was nominated an associate member of the Pontifical Theology Academy (2004 - present) and has been a visiting lecturer at the Sophia University Institute, Loppiano, Florence since its beginning in 2008.
 
Father Leahy has published widely, including Believe in Love: The Life, Ministry and Teachings of John Paul II (Dublin: Veritas, 2011); Ecclesial Movements and Communities: Origins, Issues and Significance (New York: New City, 2011); His Mass and Ours: Meditations on Living Eucharistically (New York: New City, 2012); Year of Faith: Stations of the Cross (London: CTS, 2013). In 2005 he edited No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Forgiveness: Messages for Peace from Pope John Paul II (Dublin: Veritas, 2005). He has co-edited, Having Life in His Name: Living, Thinking and Communicating the Christian Life of Faith. (Dublin: Veritas Publications, 2011) and Treasures of Irish Christianity: People and Places, Images and Texts (Dublin: Veritas, 2012).
 
With both his parents coming from Ballyferriter parish in West Kerry, Father Brendan has roots in Kerry. In the 1940s his father taught for a year in Athea, County Limerick."

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While no date has yet been set for the consecration and installation of the new bishop, canon law requires that the bishop-elect must get episcopal consecration within three months of the arrival the papal bull of his appointment. Bishop-elect Leahy's consecration and installation will be the first episcopal consecration at St John's Cathedral since 1974 when the late Bishop Jerimah Newman was consecrated bishop of Limerick. Bishop Donal Murray was already consecrated bishop when he was appointed and installed as bishop of Limerick in 1996 as he had been an auxiliary bishop in Dublin since 1982.

As the new bishops takes up his role in the diocese, it is timely to reflect on Pope Benedict XVI's homily from this years Feast of the Epiphany when he consecrated four bishops in St Peters in Rome.

".......The connection between this episcopal ordination and the theme of the pilgrimage of the peoples to Jesus Christ is evident. It is the task of the Bishop in this pilgrimage not merely to walk beside the others, but to go before them, showing the way. But in this liturgy I would like to reflect with you on a more concrete question. Based on the account of Matthew, we can gain a certain idea of what sort of men these were, who followed the sign of the star and set off to find that King who would establish not only for Israel but for all mankind a new kind of kingship. What kind of men were they? And we can also ask whether, despite the difference of times and tasks, we can glimpse in them something of what a Bishop is and how he is to carry out his task.

What sort of man must he be, upon whom hands are laid in episcopal ordination in the Church of Jesus Christ? We can say that he must above all be a man concerned for God, for only then will he also be truly concerned about men. Inversely, we could also say that a Bishop must be a man concerned for others, one who is concerned about what happens to them. He must be a man for others. But he can only truly be so if he is a man seized by God, if concern for God has also become for him concern for God's creature who is man. Like the Wise Men from the East, a Bishop must not be someone who merely does his job and is content with that. No, he must be gripped by God's concern for men and women. He must in some way think and feel with God. Human beings have an innate restlessness for God, but this restlessness is a participation in God's own restlessness for us. Since God is concerned about us, he follows us even to the crib, even to the Cross. "Thou with weary steps hast sought me, crucified hast dearly bought me, may thy pains not be in vain", the Church prays in the Dies Irae. The restlessness of men for God and hence the restlessness of God for men must unsettle the Bishop. This is what we mean when we say that, above all else, the Bishop must be a man of faith. For faith is nothing less than being interiorly seized by God, something which guides us along the pathways of life. Faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world and his promise of justice, truth and love. On this pilgrimage the Bishop must go ahead, he must be the guide pointing out to men and women the way to faith, hope and love..........

.......Faith's inner pilgrimage towards God occurs above all in prayer. Saint Augustine once said that prayer is ultimately nothing more than the realization and radicalization of our yearning for God. Instead of "yearning", we could also translate the word as "restlessness" and say that prayer would detach us from our false security, from our being enclosed within material and visible realities, and would give us a restlessness for God and thus an openness to and concern for one another. The Bishop, as a pilgrim of God, must be above all a man of prayer. He must be in constant inner contact with God; his soul must be open wide to God. He must bring before God his own needs and the needs of others, as well as his joys and the joys of others, and thus in his own way establish contact between God and the world in communion with Christ, so that Christ's light can shine in the world...........

........Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today's regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. "Those who fear the Lord will not be timid", says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.........."
 

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